Sanofi-Aventis signs $750-million microRNA therapeutics deal with Regulus

French pharmaceutical company Sanofi-Aventis today signed a strategic drug deal potentially worth $750 million with Regulus Therapeutics for the discovery, development and commercialisation of microRNA therapeutics.

The discovery of microRNA in humans is one of the most exciting scientific breakthroughs in the last decade. MicroRNAs are small RNA molecules, typically 20 to 25 nucleotides in length, that do not encode proteins but instead regulate gene expression.

More than 700 microRNAs have been identified in the human genome, and more than one-third of all human genes are believed to be regulated by microRNAs.

As a single microRNA can regulate entire networks of genes, these molecules are considered the master regulators of the genome. Targeting microRNAs opens the possibility of a novel class of therapeutics and a unique approach to treating disease by modulating entire biological pathways.

Carlsbad, California-based Regulus, a subsidiary of Alnylam Pharmaceuticals and Isis Pharmaceuticals, is a biopharmaceutical company leading the discovery of a new class of high-impact medicines based on microRNAs.

Regulus is advancing microRNA therapeutics in several areas including hepatitis C infection, cardiovascular disease, fibrosis, oncology, immuno-inflammatory diseases, and metabolic diseases.